Firms emerging from pandemic with 'resilience and vigour', survey finds

Business confidence in the East of England has risen for the fourth month in a row, according to a new survey.

Business confidence in the East of England has risen for the fourth month in a row, according to a new survey. - Credit: PA

Business confidence in the East of England is the highest it has been since before the pandemic, according to a monthly survey.

Lloyd's Bank's Business Barometer for May 2021, a poll of 1,200 firms, found that the overall confidence of firms in the East has risen to 26% — its highest level since February 2020.

Companies reported being more confident in their own business prospects month-on-month, up eight points at 25%. When taken alongside their optimism in the wider economy — which was down four points to 27% — this gives a headline confidence reading of 26%.

This is the fourth straight month that overall business confidence has increased in the UK.

The barometer also found that 15% of businesses in the region expect to hire more staff over the next year — the highest reading since January 2020.

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These readings come after non-essential retail and hospitality businesses reopened their doors to customers.

Dave Atkinson, regional director for the East of England at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “Business confidence in the East of England soared last month and it’s encouraging to see sentiment continuing to climb this month, as further restrictions are eased. 

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“The region’s famous hospitality and leisure sector benefited from the ability to again welcome indoor and overnight customers, and that’s reflected in the rising number of businesses planning to hire more staff.

“Whatever the coming weeks and months may bring, we’ll remain by the side of businesses in the East, providing the financial support and guidance to help firms prepare for what we all hope will be a summer of success.” 

Hann-Ju Ho, senior economist for Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “A fourth consecutive monthly increase in business confidence, and the highest in three years, leaves us hopeful for the UK’s economic recovery. The increase in confidence was buoyed by a further easing of lockdown restrictions and a rise in optimism about the wider economy.

“While we need to wait and see how the months ahead will unfold, the recent rise in positive outlook is an encouraging sign that firms are emerging from the Covid-19 crisis with renewed resilience and vigour.”

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